Love Language: An Overlooked Communication Style

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It comes as no surprise that communication is one of the most fundamental components of a relationship, whether it be romantic, professional, familial, or friendly in nature. Both verbal and nonverbal interactions allow us to express our thoughts, feelings, wants, and needs, which are all important to consistently communicate in any healthy relationship. Does this always happen? No. Is there a noticeable difference between healthy and unhealthy communication? Absolutely. However, this blog is not about noticing those differences, but more about thinking beyond the obvious communication styles of passive, aggressive, and assertive ways of interacting. 

Aside from body language, another frequently overlooked form of communication that we all can speak is the language of love. According to Gary Chapman, Ph.D., author of The Five Love Languages, every individual gives and receives love in different ways, depending on their personalities. Essentially, the purpose of knowing, understanding, and communicating your love language is to gain a better insight into the root of any conflict, create a greater connection with each person, and ultimately, grow together in a mindful way. So besides knowing someone’s favorite things or their zodiac sign, a conversation about love languages could be incredibly useful.

The five love languages consist of: acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, and physical touch. While each person has their preferred way of giving and receiving love, it is important to note that everyone appreciates each of these love languages in a certain capacity, but some of them are just more desirable than others. If you take the time to genuinely explore what your love language is and that of others around you, you will inevitably have smoother interactions because you will be operating from a place of greater respect and understanding. This can create a space where there is less mind reading, and more openness where wants and needs are clearly expressed and understood. 


A Deeper Look

If acts of service rank high on your list, then you are someone that values actions over words. People who speak this love language really notice when someone goes out of their way to make something in their life a bit easier. These people really value being shown how much they are appreciated as opposed to being told. They would like to be taken care of when they’re not feeling well or if they are having an off day. They would much rather have help around the house or with running errands instead of sweet nothings being whispered in their ear. They truly find it endearing when you go the extra mile while doing something for them. Let’s just say they are a group of people that really believe in putting your words into action. 

For those with receiving gifts as their top love language, nothing says I care about you more than a heartfelt gift. Chapman describes gifts as “visual symbols of love” and explains that it is not about the monetary value, but rather, the thoughtfulness behind the item. Someone you care about might mention something they really need, want, or have run out of, and you might bookmark that in your head and give it to them when the time is right. You could be at the grocery store and see your loved one’s favorite candy bar and surprise them with it later. Someone with this love language might even ball their eyes out if you make them a scrapbook or handmade card or another item they would greatly cherish. The point is, all of these examples of gift giving convey that you have taken the time to reflect on things that the other person values and holds dear to their heart, whether it was something you purchased, created, or fed them (because let’s be honest, food is also a love language). 

Quality time is all about giving the person you are with your undivided attention. People who speak this love language fluently really love feeling adored and being given someone’s active attention. This means without the distraction of TVs, phones, video games, etc. and with an abundance of eye contact, active listening, and genuinely enjoying an activity together. These individuals prefer hanging out with those they love as much as possible, but only if the time spent is uninterrupted and worthwhile. Having meaningful experiences and creating special memories are the fruits of life for people that view this as their top love language. It’s safe to say that those with this love language are usually down to hang out and you never have to ask them twice. 

Words of affirmation are extremely significant for those who feel valued through compliments, “I love you’s,” messages of encouragement, and other sweet words. Just like with any other love language, consistency is crucial for those that find this the most important way to give and receive love. Whether these words of affection are given in person, via text, over the phone, or on social media, people with this communication style really love it all. Taking the time to write a message on a card, write a poem, or send random sweet messages throughout the day are this group’s bread and butter. Let’s just say they do not mind stumbling upon a post-it note with a mushy gushy message on it. They are also the ones that actually do prefer that you whisper sweet nothings into their ear. You will surely get a warm smile from them in return. Something to keep in mind is that people who love words of affirmation can also be quite sensitive to negative words, so it is wise to think before you speak. For these individuals, empathy goes a long way.

Those who have physical touch as their first pick are the people who love giving and getting a great, big, quality hug. In fact, they’ll even notice when your hug is half-assed, like a side hug or more of a pat on the back. High-fives, handshakes, and fist bumps are also part of their communication style. More intimate ways of expressing physical touch to people of this group include holding hands, cuddling, kissing, and having sex; frequently. People in this group absolutely love feeling touched throughout your time together, even in gentle ways like touching their legs, arms, lower back, or honestly, just about anywhere. They certainly would not mind being surprised with a massage at any time of day and would find this to be both romantic and relaxing. People who primarily operate from this love language find it to be one of the best ways to connect with someone they love on a deeper level and feel a sense of oneness.


Connecting with Children

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Children can struggle with communication just as much if not more than adults. They too have their own preferences of how to give and receive love. It is definitely worth knowing what your child’s love language is because it can provide them with a greater sense of love and security while making your bond with them even stronger. This topic is also worth discussing with them so they can learn how to communicate effectively with others around them. Of course, modeling these interactions will help increase their knowledge of these communication styles as well as improve their emotional regulation.

There are plenty of ways to effectively communicate in your child’s love language. For kiddos that prefer acts of service, they would benefit from things like helping them with challenging homework, working on chores together, or simply reminding them that they can ask you for help at any time without feeling hesitant. Other ways to express this love language could entail helping them pack their lunch, offering a hand with something you notice they are struggling with, or cooking them their favorite meal. Kids who gravitate towards this love language tend to feel the most loved when they are taken care of in these types of ways. 

For the kids that love giving and receiving gifts, they appreciate when you put a lot of thought into whatever it is that you are gifting. So if you pay close attention to their favorite superhero, book series, or other hobbies and give them something related to that, you will have one happy kid. When the roles are reversed, they love when you react with enthusiasm and put their gift to you to good use. Nothing is more disheartening than when a child with this love language sees a gift they have made or given to a caregiver shoved in a closet somewhere in the house, forgotten and unused. 

One-on-one, uninterrupted quality time with children can create significant core memories and may result in huge developmental impacts on any growing child. Kids from this group can take it to heart if you are not giving them enough eye contact, having purposeful conversations, or taking the time to step away from your phone. They also might feel upset if you go a long time without spending one-on-one time together, which makes perfect sense for someone that needs it regularly. Surprising kids of this group with a day of fun activities together is one of the best things you could do.

Little ones with words of affirmation as their primary love language find your words of encouragement, praise, love, and appreciation to be quite pleasing. Complementing these kids often and expressing how proud you are of them can really strengthen their self-esteem and sense of self all while feeling greatly loved. They might look forward to your surprise note in their lunchbox or a positive message written on a post-it note on their mirror. They are the types of people that will appreciate having a heart to heart before bedtime and will go to sleep happy with your positive words echoing in their minds.

Ways to express your love to children that value physical touch the most include: giving long hugs, holding hands, giving high-fives, snuggling, and giving pats or rubs on the back. Don’t be surprised if your child asks for a head massage or back rub as part of their bedtime routine. For these kids, the sensation of touch makes them feel deeply loved and connected to their caregiver. If they are upset, a hug or a lap to cry on can make a huge difference in their mood and can remind them that you are always close by. 


The Big Picture

Many people wonder how or if a relationship could still work if those involved have different or even completely opposite love languages. Well, the short answer is definitely. In learning about your and your partner’s love language, you start to reflect on previous situations where there was a disconnect or feelings of unappreciation or even resentment. You then start to realize that you may have been operating from two different love language mindsets. Without proper communication, person A might have been wanting or expecting a meaningful date night every now and then, whereas person B might have been getting their hopes up every night for some magic in the bedroom. This type of disconnect could lead to conflict, or worse, buried thoughts and emotions that never surface or get resolved. Having the knowledge of each other’s love language could open the lines of communication in a tremendous way, while minimizing negative feelings and conflict. When you prioritize and express your love in a mindful way in the manner that each person values most, you will feel your bond of love grow stronger in ways you never knew existed.


Discover Your Love Language

The best way to help determine your or your child’s love language is to read The Five Love Languages or take the quiz on After that, you will be able to determine your primary love language or even if you have a secondary or tertiary one. It should be noted that your love language can fluctuate during different ages and stages of life or even as a response to certain life events, both positive and negative. I would recommend checking your love language rankings multiple times throughout the course of your lifetime. My hope is that during this process, you obtain a greater understanding of yourself and others around you, while spreading nothing but positive energy and love in ways that truly matter!

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Chapman, Gary. The Five Love Languages. Manjul Publishing House Pvt Ltd, 2023.